360 Finance plans to take on Pinduoduo with foray into social e-commerce

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Chinese fintech firm 360 Finance is plotting its foray into China’s buzzing social e-commerce space, an increasingly competitive sector dominated by giants including Pinduoduo, Alibaba, and JD.com.

The company will reportedly launch a group-buying platform that offers a variety of products including fresh produce, home appliances, and electronics, among others, according to investment information acquired by Ebrun (in Chinese). The new platform could launch as early as March 1.

360 Finance was not immediately available for comment.

The company, which focuses on providing digital consumer finance products to low-risk and underserved borrowers, has around 80 million registered users and made its debut on the Nasdaq in December.

Social e-commerce platforms, which offer products and services at significantly reduced prices when users buy in groups, target consumers in lower-tier cities and rural areas. The industry, which is dominated by Tencent-backed Pinduoduo, is becoming increasingly competitive in China, with major e-commerce players like Taobao, JD.com, and Suning launching their own services.

JD.com reviewed its internal structure to adapt to the popularity of group buying. The company recently established a social e-commerce business unit after a series of restructuring initiatives. Meanwhile, on-demand food delivery company Meituan debuted a group-buying feature in its WeChat mini program in October.

Separately, 360 Finance is also reportedly working on another social e-commerce platform. Similar to sites like Yunji and Beidian, the platform aims to provide store owners with a supply of products and help them with marketing, promotion, and operations.

In September, 360 Finance spun off from its parent company Qihoo 360, an internet security giant and one of China’s biggest internet companies. Qihoo has previously dabbled in e-commerce. It operates 360 Mall, an online electronics store, and a cloud platform that provides new retail technology solutions to e-commerce companies.